With so many siding options out there – from aluminum to vinyl, stucco and even steel – you may be wondering about the durability and maintenance that comes along with traditional wood siding. While wood can, in fact, require more maintenance, with regular upkeep, it will last for many years.
Whether you’re planning a new build, already own a wood sided house, or are considering a switch from your current siding, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with what it takes to maintain the health and look of your home’s exterior.
Benefits of Wood Siding
Many manufactured siding materials attempt to copy the look of traditional wood but won’t live up to the real thing. Real wood siding gives you the opportunity to reflect your personal style and aesthetic. It comes in a variety of different types and is customizable with a coat of stain or color of paint. You can enhance the welcome of a classic wood sided home with a warm toned stain, or proclaim your individuality by painting the siding a bright, vibrant hue. There are also choices to be made in the style and shape of your siding, including horizontal or vertical looks, and in the use of shingles, shake, or clapboard, as well as many other options.
Another definite advantage to real wood is the ease of repair if your siding is ever damaged. While there are many wood options, including cypress, fir, pine, etc., choosing siding made of cedar wood or redwood will give you an extra advantage as they are decay-resistant woods. If you do discover damage, patch work repairs are much easier with wood than with other manufactured siding materials. You may even be able to do the repair yourself, saving you time and money.
As a natural product, wood siding is also an environmentally-friendly option. It is a renewable resource, as well as biodegradable – breaking down into wood chips when disposed of. Cedar siding has, in fact, been found to have one of the lowest impacts of building materials on water and air quality.
Wood product manufacturing produces far fewer greenhouse gasses and toxins than many other man-made materials, and the generations of forests grown to harvest material release great amounts of oxygen into the air. It also has wonderful longevity. If properly maintained, wood siding can last for over 100 years.
Longevity Maintenance Tips
To keep your wood siding healthy and beautiful for years to come, keep up with these regular maintenance tips.
- Repaint or restain your siding every 4 to 7 years. Repainting or restaining with a high quality wood sealer minimizes exterior damage and maintains curb appeal. Do not wait until the paint chips are peeling off, however, as this will increase the prep work of scraping and sanding you will need to put in to do the repainting.
- Keep bushes and trees trimmed. Branches and bushes pressed against your siding can create scratches in the stain or paint, and wet leaves could encourage rot. Make sure to keep up on trimming, and keep about a foot of space between your home’s exterior and any plants.
- Maintain caulk on exterior doors and windows. Gaps and holes in caulk around your windows and doors can allow moisture to get in. Fill in any visible holes on regular annual checks.
- Keep siding clean and mildew free. Keep your siding clean to allow for visual inspection and to prevent damage to the wood. For dirt, soapy water and a brush are sufficient, but if you find mildew, which would appear on wood as black spots, use a solution of water and vinegar to clear it away. Power washing can be a fast and effective way to clean but can also damage natural wood. Powerwash with care.
- Keep gutters clear. Regular gutter cleaning, about twice a year, will help prevent damage to siding. Gutters allow water to divert into a drainage system, instead of running down your exterior walls. If water and ice get trapped due to a buildup of leaves and debris, it can soak into the wood and cause it to rot.
- Check for proper attic ventilation. The humidity of your home, including your attic should be below 65%. The easiest way to be sure of this is with an indoor humidity monitor in the home. High humidity indoors can cause moisture to build up behind your exterior siding.
- Replace damaged siding immediately. Damaged siding can let in more moisture that could spread to other areas of the house. It may also make it easier for animals and bugs to get into the wood.
Inspecting Your Siding
Even while keeping up with maintenance, be sure to conduct regular visual inspections of your wood siding to check for any damage. Things to look out for include blistering or peeling paint, paint chalking, buckling or warped boards, holes that could indicate termites or rodents, and even wood rot. Any rotting, cracked or broken siding should be replaced as soon as possible.